Catholic Charities moving some offices to Casa Azafrán

Catholic Charities of Tennessee is forming a new partnership with Conexión Americas and will move its South Nashville Family Resource Center to Conexión’s Casa Azafrán facility on Nolensville Road, pictured above.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee is forming a new partnership with Conexión Americas and will move its South Nashville Family Resource Center to Conexión’s Casa Azafrán facility on Nolensville Road.

“Catholic Charities and Conexión are the definition of complementary organizations,” said Judy Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Together, we will serve the full range of client needs from financial assistance for an immediate crisis to job training to parenting skills and so much more.”

Conexión Americas was founded in 2002 to serve Nashville’s growing Hispanic community. Conexión opened Casa Azafrán in 2012 to house its own growing programs and other non-profit resident partners. At Casa Azafrán, Conexión Americas’ programs provide education, health services, entrepreneurship training, culinary and artistic expression, volunteerism, community building, and events.

The other agencies using space at Casa Azafrán are: the American Muslim Advisory Council, Family and Children’s Service, Global Education Center, Justice for Our Neighbors and Metro Nashville Public Schools at Casa Azafrán.

The services provided by the South Nashville Family Resource Center primarily address basic needs for families in a crisis, while the services provided by Conexión Americas and the other partners are geared more for families that are more stable, Orr explained.

“Their services don’t meet basic needs,” Orr said. “That’s exactly what we have. … Together, we have the perfect family resource center model,” similar to Catholic Charities’ operation at the McGruder Family Resource Center in North Nashville.

“It makes more sense if we combine forces,” Orr said. “It’s such a natural fit.”

At Casa Azafrán, Catholic Charities will provide a variety of services, including utility and rent assistance, food access, immigration legal services, mental health counseling, and the Maternal and Infant Health Outreach Program (MIHOW), a Vanderbilt University program of peer-to-peer mentoring for expectant and new mothers.

“They’re trying to help the South Nashville community and we’re trying to do the same thing. We’ll be able to work together instead of duplicating services,” said Anais Riggs, coordinator of the South Nashville Family Resource Center. “I think it’s going to be a really good fit because we’re going to be able to help more people together.”

The South Nashville Family Resource Center previously was located on Edmonson Pike near the intersection with Nolensville Pike, but that space was too small to provide the necessary privacy for counseling sessions and case management meetings with clients, Orr said. 

About a year ago Orr, new in her job at Catholic Charities, was meeting with the leaders of other non-profit agencies in the area. She mentioned the need for a new location for the South Nashville Family Resource Center during a meeting with Jose Gonzalez, a co-founder of Casa Azafrán, and Juliana Ospina Cano, the agency’s executive director.

“They looked at each other and said, ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’” Orr recalled.

One of Conexión’s partners, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, was planning to move out of Casa Azafrán into their own building and their space would be available for Catholic Charities, Orr said.

The lease for the Edmonson Pike location expired in January of this year, but TIRRC’s new building wasn’t ready for it to move into yet, Orr said. So the South Nashville Family Resource Center moved into a temporary location on Travis Drive near the intersection of Nolensville Pike and Harding Place.

The South Nashville staff will move into their new offices in Casa Azafrán on Friday, July 31, and open the following week, Riggs said. “We’re packing away.”

Nine full- and part-time staffers from Catholic Charities will work at the Casa Azafrán offices, Orr said. Some will split their time between that location and other Catholic Charities’ offices, she said.

Casa Azafrán is located on Nolensville Pike between the Fairgrounds and I-440.

“We’re excited to be closer to town,” Orr said. “We think that will be more accessible to people.”

The area along Nolensville Pike is home to a large Hispanic population, but is also one of the city’s most international and socially diverse areas. Although both Conexión Americas and the South Nashville Family Resource Center serve the Hispanic Community, they also provide services to people of all backgrounds.

 “While Conexión’s main focus of service is to the Hispanic community we throughout our South Nashville Family Resource Center programs provide services to a vast and diverse group of individuals and families,” Riggs said. “We will bring more diversity to their door steps. Together we can continue to provide assistance to the most vulnerable populations in the area.”

“I am immensely grateful to Conexión for welcoming us,” Orr said. “It’s really a fantastic partnership, a great location partnering with a highly visible, respected community partner in their building.”

“I cannot wait,” she added, “to see the impact on our South Nashville neighbors over the next year.”